Authorities question person after reports of arson - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Authorities question person after reports of arson

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - It's the heart-breaking possibility no one wants to believe: could some of the fires in East Texas be the work of an arsonist?

Authorities say that a person of interest was being questioned in connection with several Smith County fires. Investigators say they spotted a person matching the description of an arson suspect at an active fire scene Thursday night.

"You could barely see back there. The smoke was overwhelming," said Lara Elliott, resident.

Lara says as a plume of thick smoke drifted closer to their home Thursday, authorities told them to pack up.

"We grabbed wedding albums and pictures," she said.

Authorities say they detained and questioned a man matching the description of a suspect seen throwing burning socks into brush piles on Wednesday. He was reportedly seen here Thursday night, helping firefighters control the blaze.

"I can't imagine someone that mean or evil I mean trying to demolish anything in sight. I mean it's unreal," said Lara.

"I think they ought to let the property owner spend a little time with him alone," said Carter Elliott, Lara's dad and property owner.  

Carter showed us the devastation caused by Thursday's fire. He says it'll take years for his land to be replenished.

"We've been watching it because they say it'll burn for two weeks so we've got a real wide fire line cut and I don't think it'll jump across it but we're going to watch it real close," he said.

At this time, no one has been charged with these fires. Authorities say it's a lead they're looking into. For the Elliotts, it's beyond disturbing.

"I just can't imagine somebody doing that you know and just doing it for fun or being mean or whatever it is, it's just destroying property and it'd be nice if these people he set fires on their place could spent a little time visiting with him," he said.

We want to make sure it's clear, no one has been arrested. Authorities say the person was released Thursday night after questioning.

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